Though serious about our work, Truss employees also have a breadth of outside interests. One such interest that is shared among a vocal contingent is analog gaming--we throw a monthly game night for board, card, and strategy games. But we also have some Trussels who have been transfixed by various digital games over the years. This has been made obvious over the last week, when catching Pokemon became (depending on who you talk to) an acceptable excuse for unexpected diversions and phone use during conversation.
This post was inspired by the Pokemon Go craze, which has hit Trusseldom hard. While some of us believed we had left Pokemon behind in middle school, it's back with a vengeance. What apparently began as an April Fool's Joke has ended up being a blockbuster hit. What's so great about it? According to one Trussel, everything that is not about actually catching Pokemon. So basically: getting outside, running around with friends, and exploring new places. The vitamin D and exercise may just be a bonus for game creators, but it seems like it's some people's main event. Read about the game's other effects in this article from the the New Yorker, Pokemon Go Will Make You Crave Augmented Reality.
Pokemon Go may have blown up, but it's not the first to explore these waters. In fact, it's likely that it borrows a fair amount of its underlying structure (such as maps, locations of hotspots--in this case "gyms") from an earlier game called Ingress. Ingress, a Google game with a cult following, has been around since 2012. This post from CNET: Ingress, the Friendliest Turf War on Earth, describes the game's inception, basic outline, and community. Though it didn't have as much instant wide-spread appeal as Pokemon Go has, it too shares many of the qualities that make Pokemon Go popular. There's the social aspect of being on a team (either "Resistance" or "Enlightened"), the discovery aspect of being forced to explore places you may otherwise ignore, and even large organized gatherings for players.
There are detractors, of course. Beyond those who object to these games on grounds of rudeness and public safety, there are those who claim that these are not augmented reality games at all. If you want to read more about the difference between "location-specific" and true "augmented reality" games, check out this article from Venture Beat: Stop Referring to Pokemon Go as Augmented Reality or this one from Scientific American: Is Pokemon Go Really Augmented Reality?
In any case, it's probably worth checking out whether they're worth all the hype or not. So pick up your phone and get going!